Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Philosopher Watching The Tides

Having fallen there unwittingly, I gathered a bit of moss, a harmless, bewildered stone. Vincent took it on himself to make me more aware of what was around me, at least at that level; he told me the histories of the sects and the lives of the individuals, the alliances and feuds, the realignments and splits, he filled me in on a host of different points of view, on systems colliding, theories breaking up, arguments bubbling over, and proliferating isms, budding and fissiparous, like minute vibrations. When I had mastered all these details I realized that it had not really got me anywhere at all. - Queneau

I completed Odile by Queneau a week ago and found satisfaction in its inchoate stance. Nothing of an absolute sort has been divined by me personally. It is an ongoing sifting and strolling. I read somewhere that Julian Barnes is our Montaigne. Puzzled initially, I grew fond of that description. I finished his collection Pulse two weeks ago and found it uneven. Maybe it was me. I read the following three years ago.

In 2006, at the Kiev zoo, a man lowered himself by rope into the island compound where the lions and tigers are kept. As he descended, he shouted across to the gawping crowds. One witness quoted him as saying, "Who believes in God will be unharmed by lions"; another, the more challenging, "God will save me, if He exists." The metaphysical provocateur reached the ground, took off his shoes, and walked towards the animals, whereupon an irritated lioness knocked him down, and bit through his carotid artery. - Julian Barnes

During that autumn of 2008 I read the above aloud to my friends Lloyd Wimp and Roger Baylor, both whom practically howled with laughter. Lloyd has since past. Roger and I don't speak as we were once accustomed. Perhaps that is the point of both passages.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My wife and I are reading Bel-Ami by Maupassant in tandem and will most likely both complete the text today, our Ninth wedding anniversary. While the rakish tale might not be most people's epitome of nuptial value, it is an amazing novel and the titular character is a delightful scoundrel.

My wife has expressed a desire that we read Perec in tandem next, a goal to which I look forward.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lonesome Dove

Thanks to antibiotic insomnia and a sprawling day fielding repairmen, I finished Larry McMurtry's epic this afternoon. It was no coincidence that I used a publicity card from John Sayles' Moment In The Sun as a bookmark; both go to explicit ends to delineate the sum of toil necessary to tame this land and thus allow our present suburban ennui. Consider me grateful.

I liked the novel, though I had a problem with Jake's character, especially his shooting of the young girl's husband. The episode appeared forced and acted as authorial evidence that it was okay that his friends hung him. That synopsis doesn't extend justice to the tempo of the text, the static detail which captures and inspires. McMurty also has a dilemma with the emotionally detached characters (just about everyone save Gus and Clara) being placed in gruesome, challenging situations and the reader has little to do but gasp.

A Fist of Threads

There was a minor coincidence in my reference to Cloud Atlas in that last posting concerning Wesley Stace. My wife read that film adaptation is underway, utilizing multiple directors and the premise sounds interesting. My own interests have been floundered somewhat, as the sinus straits of autumn have again left me in the shoals. I have slept a great deal and absorbed antibiotics chasing of fever with alternating doses of Armadale and Lonesome Dove.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wesley Stace

I finished his newest novel today. Despite its awkward title, I found Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer a delightful romp into the heady realm of classical composition and performance. There were strains of David Mitchell initially, though I suspect I was recalling the Frobisher episode from Cloud Atlas.

The novel is overflowing with pithy puns and references to music and culture in the London of just before the Great War. There are also tremors of an unreliable narrator but the novel shifts gears before a Pale Fire parody and instead trots into graceful albeit predictable conclusion.

I have been antagonized today with sinus upheavals and this may temper some ambitions for the week.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Cache of Shame Has Been Pinched

The title is a nod to my best friend Joel. The events depicted within are sadly only my own.

I know a guy from the Public House. his name is Bill. We call him Bookstore Bill as there are a host of Bills in circulation. If you hadn't guessed, he works in a bookstore. He has for thirty years now. He worked for Hawley-Cooke for a number of years. It was an institution in Louisville. Economic trends began change and they sold out to Borders. Borders is closing. He was in the pub a few months ago, understandably morose. He was describing his future plans and we all nodded. Bill left and Roger said, the worst thing about the situation is that Bill has to stay and quietly sell off their stock at reduced prices. I then said, I would be happy to help them along. Roger said that this was bad. Roger likes to moralize. Roger likes to moralize about other people and their actions. I am being nice now.

I did not go to Bill's store but i went to the store at the mall. Yeah, the mall. It had been conveyed to me that books were now 80 percent off. That wasn't quite true, but fiction was deuced by such a figure. I bought two novels: Solar by Ian McEwan and Charles Jessold, Considered As A Murderer by Wesley Stace. i am quite comfortable with my decision. Did I poach? Is it people like me that allowed a big box to tumble and collapse? I have always loathed those stores. I wasn't their customer previously, only in emergencies.

Most of the books I buy are used. This is true by a wide margin. I am quite fine with that as well. I listened to Hayden's cello concerto last night while reading Stace's gothic novel about a composer. I bought the Jaqueline du Pre cd at Half Price. It cost me a dollar and I find considerable pleasure in listening to it. The potlatches and privations are beyond my means of odes and citations.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Our Mutual Friend

One of my heroes George Orwell devoted a considerable amount of effort and writing to the world of Charles Dickens.

"He happens to be one of those 'great authors' who are ladled down everyone's throat in childhood. At the time this causes rebellion and vomiting, but it may have different after-effects in later life."

My own experiences have proved much more intermittent. I completed Our Mutual Friend yesterday after nibbling on such since February. I found the emotional volte-face of many of the characters to be rather jarring; when the ruses are revealed, it felt improbable. Such amateur agents don't strike me as convincing. I am glad I read such.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

It Is A Shame

Iris Chang was not an acute writer. Perhaps I should quickly qualify by stating I have only read 50 pages of the Rape of Nanking. This is the second time i have read those fifty pages. Such harrowing material deserves a deft hand, one which maintains a posture of poise. It didn't receive such.

I was led to Nanking after finishing Hermit of Peking by Hugh Trevor-Roper earlier today. I found his investigation to be marvelous. I sit here now, full from a flowing table of grilled meats and peppers and am thankful for such repose.

My Modest Goals

Maintaining a troika of books to finish: Our Mutual Friend, Lonesome Dove and The Hermit of Peking by Hugh Trevor-Roper - it is an apt to time reflect on the what's next. By the end of this newborn month I hope to have enjoyed Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, another of the Parker novels by Richard Stark and Hugo's famed ruminations of Notre Dame de Paris. This isn't the grandest of plans, but one which warms me presently.

Progress Towards The Holiday

Shortly after that last post I read Imre Kertesz's Kaddish For An Unborn Child which is a screed for the philosophical implications of the Shoah. Thomas Bernhard is cited within the novella and Kertesz has translated the Austrian into Hungarian. The postulate does take the form of Bernhard's Concrete or The Loser with the ongoing interrogation and moral inventory.

I have since quit samizdat as such. I will read all the books selected by Joel and Pint and will certainly continue to comment upon such there. Otherwise I won't contribute to the quotidian buoyancy and continuity. I won't be the sham friend for a marketing strategy. That is all likely petty. I do stand behind such.